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Israel: women block road in Tel Aviv demanding prisoner swap deal

March 14, 2024 at 10:20 am

Demonstrators, holding banners and flags, gather to stage a protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, demanding early election and return of prisoners in Tel Aviv, Israel on March 02, 2024. [Saeed Qaq – Anadolu Agency]

A group of Israeli women, including relatives of Israeli hostages held in Gaza, blocked the main Ayalon Road in Tel Aviv on Thursday to demand a deal to release them, Anadolu has cited an Israeli media outlet as saying.

“During peak traffic congestion, the protesters stood carrying large pictures of the hostages and chanted, ‘Deal now’,” Israel’s Channel 12 reported. The protesters affirmed that “they will not forget their brothers and sisters who are still detained in the tunnels.”

The report also said that a women’s movement initiated the protest, but did not name it.

Police were called to disperse the protesters who continued to shout and struggled to disrupt traffic until officers managed to reopen the road. Traffic was flowing again after about half an hour.

“The protesters who were moved to the side of the road chanted: ‘Arresting the families of hostages is shameful’,” said Channel 12. The broadcaster also quoted families of hostages as saying, “Every passing day diminishes the chances of the hostages returning alive.”

They criticised the Israeli government, saying: “When decision-makers postpone making a deal, we are not ready to relax… We do not despair, we do not surrender.”

In recent weeks, many Israeli cities have seen almost daily protests to put pressure on the right-wing government of Benjamin Netanyahu to make a deal with Hamas to exchange Israeli and Palestinian prisoners, halt the war in Gaza, and hold an early General Election.

Israel estimates there are still around 130 hostages in Gaza. The apartheid state, meanwhile, is holding at least 8,800 Palestinians in its prisons, many with neither charge nor trial, according to official sources in Israel and occupied Palestine.

READ: Israel suspected of abducting, disappearing Palestinian children from Gaza under guise of ‘evacuation’